Weighing up. Consider this scenario: Reviewing your operating costs for the past year, you’ve assembled a line-item list of your co-op or condo’s expenses, from labor and insurance to property taxes and debt service. Looking at the numbers, you wonder how they compare to those of other properties — and if there’s a way to find out.
Details, details. There are resources that will give you a pretty clear idea. The accounting firm WilkinGuttenplan recently released its annual Cooperative & Condominium Database for 2020, a compilation of financial statements from some 300 buildings it represents. The information, sorted by zip code or by unit size, includes a general description of the property, its total income and expenses, broken down into categories, as well as mortgage information and the average monthly maintenance per unit.
“The data can be very useful in helping boards determine how their reserves or transfer fees or debt service compare to buildings similar to theirs,” says Michael Esposito, a partner at the firm. “If they’re very high in comparison, you may scare away potential purchasers. It’s just that much more information for boards to make sound decisions and answer shareholder concerns.”
More or less. Another trove of data — drawn from more than 1,000 buildings — is the Council of New York Cooperatives & Condominiums’ (CNYC) annual comparative study of operating costs. Available to CNYC members (at cnyc.com), you enter your building code number and select one of eight different comparison groups organized by borough and building-unit size. The online tool generates a chart of 16 expense categories (such as mortgage balance, tax assessments, utilities, and attorney, accountant and administration fees), each showing the percentage of buildings in the comparison group whose costs per room are less than yours.
“If your costs for heating are astronomically higher than everyone else’s, it’s time to ask what’s wrong with your system, if there are leaks, or whether you’re overheating your building,” says Mary Ann Rothman, CNYC’s executive director. The study also includes a summary chart giving the range, median and average cost in dollars per room over the last 10 years, so you can see what’s trending. “You can’t compare your building’s operating costs with the building next door or down the block,” she adds, “but you can see if you’re in a reasonable ballpark.”